Disasters & Accidents

Petrópolis storm death toll rises as weather hampers search efforts

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 20 (EFE).- The heavy rainstorm that devastated part of the Brazilian city of Petrópolis has killed 169 people and injured almost 200, as the search for dozens of missing persons continued in unstable conditions Sunday.

According to the latest data of the Fire Department, the Civil Police has a provisional list of 126 missing, although other agencies have a lower number.

The search continues, but under extremely difficult conditions. On Thursday, rain caused more flooding and left the ground even more unstable.

In the last six days, Civil Defense has reported 775 incidents of landslides.

In addition, the Brazilian authorities activated the warning sirens again on Sunday due to the forecast of “moderate” rainfall in the coming hours.

The more than 500 firefighters operating in the area were forced to stop work several times during the weekend. They also had to work in poor visibility due to the intermittent presence of fog.

So far, 24 people have been rescued alive from the rubble, as well as more than 200 pets, according to official sources.

“The teams are working to deal with new incidents, carry out inspections in the affected areas, clean the city, clear the roads, welcome families and reinforce all our health units,” said Petrópolis Mayor Rubens Bomtempo.

Also Sunday, the municipal authorities asked the 300,000 inhabitants of Petrópolis not to leave their homes, except in cases of “extreme necessity,” to facilitate the clearing of the roads and restore traffic flow.

In this process, 313 vehicles that were dragged during the storm have been removed from the rivers and streets of the former Imperial City.

However, in the midst of the destruction that has engulfed Petrópolis, life has also found a way.

On Sunday, a baby was born in a school transformed into a support shelter for people who have been left with nothing.

Giovana Cerqueira, 19, arrived there to alert her mother, who was staying in the shelter, to the fact that she was feeling pain, according to the Petrópolis Mayor’s Office.

Immediately, the medical team that worked in that school got to work.

“She was having strong contractions. We called Civil Defense, which in turn called an ambulance, but there was no time. The baby was born right here. It was the most exciting thing I’ve seen in my life,” said the director of the School Bom Jesus Parish, Renata Zacharsk.

Her name? Ana Alice. She and her mother are well and resting in a hospital. EFE


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